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Bill Of Rights

Volume 897: debated on Saturday 16 August 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce a Bill of Rights in the next Session of Parliament.

The Government do not have such a measure in preparation, but we are continuing to study the questions raised by this proposal.

I am sure that the Minister is aware of the widespread feeling that many of our basic rights have been eroded. It has occurred to me that the amount of legislation passing through the House at present means that sometimes, more by accident than by design some of our basic rights are being eroded. A Bill of Rights could give some sort of appeal through the courts—

Order. The hon. Member may not make a statement. He must ask a question.

Will the Minister indicate whether she is against the introduction of such a Bill in the short term because she believes that basic British good sense will protect us against any erosion, or because she believes that all the legislation before Parliament is, individually, more necessary?

Earlier this year, during the debate on a Bill of Rights, there was a wide variation of opinion about the best way of safeguarding individual rights, about what form such a Bill should take, and what rights it should seek to protect. Therefore, we shall continue to study all the questions raised by the proposal.

Is my hon. Friend aware that, whether or not we have a Bill of Rights, many civil liberty measures need to be undertaken, about which the Home Office is not doing very much? Does the Home Office have in mind any measures to give the ordinary citizen under police interrogation any greater protection than he or she has at present?

My hon. Friend has raised one aspect of civil rights which could be included in a Bill of Rights, but it does not relate to the question whether there should be a full Bill of Rights, which would involve far more than the one point he raised.

During further study of the feasibility of such legislation, will the hon. Lady bear in mind the desirability of such a Bill of Rights applying to the whole of the United Kingdom?

If such a Bill of Rights were introduced, that would be one of the points to be considered.